Friday, April 15, 2011

Great moments in marketing -- Charlie Sheen edition

About a week ago, while waiting to check out at a local electronics store, I came across these odd pouches in the snack section.

They looked a bit like IV bags but closer examination revealed they were energy shots accompanied with inexplicably bizarre copy.

It was only after consulting Google did I discover that phrases like "Adonis DNA," "truth torpedos" and "rockstar from Mars" were taken from Charlie Sheen rants.

Further research revealed that the product went out on the shelves more than a month ago. Say what you will about American ingenuity, I'd like to see another country go from embarrassing public spectacle to worthless consumer product this quickly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The asshole plot

You may be familiar with James Blish's idiot plot, generally defined as a plot that is only possible if the protagonist is an idiot (in some variants, the whole cast has to consist of idiots).

I'd like to add an even more common genre, the asshole plot. In these stories, most or all of the conflict comes from a major character who makes things difficult for the protagonist by being an asshole for no apparent reason other than to make things easy for the writer.

Television, with its constant need for story arcs, is rife with asshole plots. Recent examples include Jayne Atkinson's Erin Strauss on Criminal Minds whose campaign to remove Thomas Gibson's character never made any any sense in the context of the story, or Chi McBride's Edward Vogler on House.

But the best example I've seen in a long time comes from CBS's soon to be late Chaos. In the episode "Song of the North," a congressman, played by Currie Graham holds a press conference revealing a secret mission in North Korea. He knows that this information is top secret. He knows that making it public will endanger American lives. He should know he's risking his political career if something does go wrong. The only reason for him to screw up the mission was that the writer couldn't think of anything else.